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Tim Berry on business planning, starting and growing your business, and having a life in the meantime.

Angry Emails Are Not Biodegradable 8

Never argue in email or txt messages.

Sure, you think you can make your point that way, clearly, without interruptions, going just one way. It feels something like the advantages of guerrilla warfare: get in quickly, deliver your carefully targeted blow, and then disappear. Fire

But it doesn’t work. You don’t make that point. Instead, you inflame the argument with more incendiary textual sound and fury, without inflection to make it human. You make it worse.

Email works beautifully for many kinds of simple, practical communication. But it’s not personal and it doesn’t work for personal arguments.

Talk about it. Walk across the hall or get on the phone. You’ll be glad you did.

  • http://spinsucks.com Gini Dietrich

    A year ago, I banned internal email at my company because, during an employee satisfaction survey, we learned the staff were saying horrible things to one another they’d never say in person. We couldn’t get them to stop using email to communicate that way, so we cut it off. It was a pretty drastic method, but it worked. I could visibly see morale rise as people began to TALK to one another about client work, personal issues, and disagreements. We ended up turning the internal email back on, but the lesson lived.

  • http://www@ozonvision.com KAREL WILHELMUS SH

    YES IT IS ABSOLUTELY TRUE,
    WE WONT CREATE A SMART IMAGE IN FRONT OF YOUR OWN MONITOR. THEREFORE, AFTER WRITING AN EMOTIONAL MAILS, TRY THE FOLLOWING STEPS:
    1. SPELL CHECK
    2. STREAMLINING YOUR EMOTIONS WITH BOLD AND COLORS OR PICTURES.
    3. SAVE IT
    4. WRITE A NEW MAIL, MORE ROMANTIC OR RHETORIC OR A SMARTER MAIL.

  • http://Seibco.com Jeannette Seibly

    Absolutely, correct. People have different reading capabilities. It also depends heavily on whether or not they are having a great day, or just had to deal with a difficult employee or client. I’ve seen good relationships take negative turns based upon poor email etiquette. I’ve coached many executives based upon email threads. Pick up the phone! Play nice! If you hit a bump in the conversation, you will usually have an opportunity to clean it up before it gets worse.

  • Kristin

    It is so easy to hide behind an email rather than confront in person. It is scary to confront someone with an opposite opinion sometimes. But you are right – people often read anger and will misunderstand words if they do not hear your inflection and which words you stress. I learned my lesson when my email was misunderstood and/or when I misunderstood someone else’s email!! It is like lying – which keeps getting worse with each lie! An email argument gets worse with each email.

  • http://pivotpointsolutions.net Andrew McFarland

    Exactly! Email and other forms of written communication are so easy now that many mistakenly assume they are substitutes for clear, immediate, and interactive communications. Israel and Palestine won’t craft a lasting peace over email, and neither will business leaders and co-workers.

  • Carlos Diaz

    Excellent advice, Tim. In Spanish we say: ‘El que se enoja, pierde’ and in case you have forgotten your EspaƱol: Who loses his temper, loses the argument. Un abrazo!

    • http://timberry.com Tim Berry

      Thanks Carlos, and don’t worry, we invite bilingual comments around here. There are some things, like ni modo, that you can’t say nearly as well in English.

  • http://www.jayanti.com B.K.Vetrivel

    The e-mail is for coomunication and not for personal matters
    Wonderful opinion on what is e-mail is for?

    I don’t know at my 65 years how many are going to correct their mistakes!!!

    How ever it is not an agument and is only communicating my thoughts